Address Verification System (AVS)
What is AVS?
AVS stands for Address Verification System, and is exactly what it sounds like. In order to reduce the risk of fraudulent transactions and/or chargeback's, a credit card billing address is requested with any charge and verified before authorization is given for the transaction.
What is the Address Verification System (AVS)?
The Address Verification System (AVS) is an advanced level of credit card security to help thwart identity theft. When a user makes an online purchase with a credit card their billing address is required. The house number portion and postal code of the billing address they enter is compared to the billing address on file for the card.
If the address does not match then the transaction is declined. Thus, address verification failed and the chance that this is a fraudulent transaction is too high to allow the transaction to go through.
Legitimate Declines are Common
If the address entered by the user does not match the address on file with the card then the transaction will be declined. If something is misspelled or the customer has moved then the address will not verify. In the event a card fails the only choice you have is to contact the customer to verify their information and work with them to obtain the correct billing address. They may have a bad address on file with the financial institution.
You may also choose to relax your AVS settings a bit at the payment gateway. This is quite common for vacation rental owners and managers because fraud is not really an issue, as the guest has to show up to the vacation rental to use it. However, if you turn off AVS completely at the gateway you most likely will incur additional processing costs as most of your transactions will get downgraded and incur 1-2% higher processing costs. But AVS settings can be too strict and realizing the settings a bit in most cases won't affect your discount rate. However, we advise monitoring your statements and contacting your merchant account provider to determine if your looser AVS settings are resulting in card downgrades.
The more boxes you un check, the more "loose" your AVS settings will become which will result in less cards getting declined to "address mismatch". HOWEVER YOU MIGHT WANT TO CONTACT YOUR MERCHANT ACCOUNT PROVIDER AS REDUCING THESE SETTINGS TOO MUCH COULD RESULT IN HIGHER FEES BEING CHARGED BY YOUR MERCHANT ACCOUNT PROVIDER. In most instances you simply want to avoid having your AVS settings set to be "too strict" which can result in large numbers of cards getting declined, especially if many of your guests are from overseas or business customers.